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5 Ways to Cure Your Plantar Fasciitis at Home

Female foot heel pain with red spot, plantar fasciitis

Authored by Ty Bostic NASM- CES, TRS-S – Fitness Instructor at Hilton Head Health

Plantar fasciitis is a common incident we see at Hilton Head Health among the sedentary and active population. The condition is often misunderstood, and there is a mass of theories out there. Plantar Fasciitis can either be acute (early stages) or chronic (long-term). The crucial point we would like to address is that any plantar fasciitis condition can be successfully treated, but often requires multiple therapies and persistent practice of stretching and strengthening. It’s important to note that there is no miracle cure as there are different modalities and approaches one can take. 

First and foremost let’s explain the anatomy of the Plantar Fascia. The arch of your foot is like a bow, so think of the plantar fascia as the bow’s string on the bottom of the foot. The most common cause of plantar fasciitis is stress on the plantar fascia, which can be attributed to a number of things: poor footwear, obesity, rolling your ankles inward while walking, or simple overuse (ie: running too far too fast or standing too long on a hard surface). Plantar fasciitis can be caused by tissue fatigue in the arch of the foot due to excessive strain, and possible vulnerability due to biological factors. Technically within a 4-6 week period, plantar fasciitis can be alleviated after an adequate period of rest, as long as you employ stretching and proper treatments to help the fibrous tissue heal.  But if you find that your condition isn’t improving, it’s recommended to see a doctor such as a foot and ankle specialist. In some cases, plantar pain can be a sign of a more serious condition such as joint dysfunction, a stress fracture, or a compressed nerve. 

In our 5 ways to kick your plantar pain, we’ll discuss conservative treatments such as compression therapy, myofascial release, contrast hot/cold therapy, nutrition, and basic stretches to alleviate the arch pain. These are also recovery techniques we administer at Hilton Head Health for our clientele. 

Compression Therapy

This is an applicable method by which controlled pressure is applied to the extremities in order to increase blood flow and address the efficiency of the lymphatic and venous systems. One procedure we use at Hilton Head Health recovery services is by using a compression/muscle flossing technique called VooDoo floss. Usually made of latex rubber, the VooDoo floss bandage is wrapped tightly around the foot and ankle, comparable to an Ace bandage. Once it’s on, the client performs certain exercises to move the foot and ankle around in a various range of motions or they can just simply walk around. Blood flow will be restricted to the region of the plantar fascia. The wrap can stay on usually within a 2-5 minute time frame while it is tightly squeezing the tissue and joints. It’s always important to note the discoloration to the skin of the foot so you don’t keep the wrap on too long. The theory of VooDoo floss is that, by compressing the area, you’re helping to improve mobility by loosening the tissue decreasing pain receptors, and speeding up the healing process by increasing blood flow to the region which aids in inflammation reduction. VooDoo flossing has been found to be a safe effective method that can be discomforting during the process but provides instant relief afterward. You can VooDoo floss up to 5-8 times daily for increased benefits.

Voo Doo floss ankle

Myofascial Release

Myofascial massage is particularly helpful because it loosens the tendons, ligaments, and fascia that have become painfully tight over time. Think of the plantar fascia as tight glue that needs to be broken up. This can help relax the tissue back into its normal alignment.  Also, Scar tissue can trigger inflammation and maybe an active villain within your arch. Breaking up scar tissue through myofascial release is crucial to the restoration of the foot and proper blood flow. While myofascial release to the bottom of your foot is not a permanent treatment option for plantar fasciitis, it can help you quickly relieve the pain you are experiencing in the short-term, and it is more effective than simply resting your feet and needs to be a steady practice. 

USING A GOLF/TENNIS BALL, LACROSSE BALL, OR WATER BOTTLE: start by sitting in a chair with your feet facing forward. Next, roll your foot from the ball of your foot to the heel in a side to side motion (across the foot, not up and down) to break up adhesions and loosen the connective tissue, applying as much pressure as you can. You can also stand to apply more pressure. Be mindful of the difference between pain and discomfort. Discomfort is necessary to promote change within the tissue. Sharp intense pain that lasts more than 30 seconds, however, can do more harm than good. A good rule of thumb is that if it continues to feel sketchy with no relief, it is sketchy! A frozen water bottle can be used for the extra benefit of calming cold reducing inflammation to the tissue. Use this procedure for 2 minutes on each foot. 

Self-myofascial release techniques using a tennis ball
Image courtesy of Human Kinetics

Contrast Therapy

Contrast Cold/Heat therapy is actually a physical therapy treatment in which a part of the body (the foot in this case) is immersed first in hot water for 2-3 minutes, then in ice water for 2-3 minutes, and continue to alternate in this fashion between hot and cold several times over a course of 15-30 minutes. “Never finish with heat if you’re concerned about aggravating inflammation.” According to this article, you should finish this contrast therapy using cold (ice). Contrasting between hot and cold can help improve circulation around your injured tissue to promote healing and pain relief. The fast opening and closing of the blood vessels near the site of your injury create a pumping action that helps decrease swelling and inflammation around the plantar fascia. In our Hilton Head Health recovery services, our Fitness team uses this technique for our clientele to decrease inflammation and to aid in their healing process. 

Stretching

Stretching the Plantar Fascia and Achilles tendon will help to lengthen and strengthen the lower leg muscles, which help stabilize the foot and heel. You can stretch your calves, metatarsals, and the bottom of your foot with nothing more than a wall and a chair in an open space. 

*Calf Stretches*

The easiest way to stretch the calf is by standing about 2 feet from a wall. 

  • Lean against the wall with your arms outstretched. 
  • Place one foot on the ground in the line extending down from your shoulders and one foot behind your body. 
  • Keep your back foot flat on the ground and feel a stretch in the back of your heel (the Achilles tendon). 
  • Hold the stretch for a count of 120 seconds (2 minutes)  
  • To enhance this stretch into the Soleus muscle, point your back knee down toward the ground while keeping the foot flat on the floor.  
  • Repeat 2-3 times daily. 

*Metatarsal Stretch* 

This top of the foot stretch is done in a seated position. It helps to relax the bottom of the foot by releasing the muscles on the top of the foot. This is a very underrated stretch in plantar treatment due to the metatarsals being ignored and under steady strain during plantar pain. 

  • Start by crossing your leg and grasp your foot. 
  • Pull your toes downward away from your shin while holding your heel with the other hand. You gradually increase the stretch the longer you hold. 
  • Feel a stretch on the top of the foot. 
  • Hold this for a count of 120 seconds (2 minutes) to stimulate a response to the tissue.  
  •  Change feet and repeat 2-3 times daily. 

*Wall Lean*  

  • Stand facing a wall and place your palms on the wall at eye level. 
  • Position your feet about 12 inches apart, one in front of the other. 
  • Keeping the front knee straight, place the toes against the wall as high as possible. 
  • Lean into the wall so you can feel a stretch in the front foot. 
  • Hold the stretch for 120 seconds. 
  • Change feet and repeat 2-3 times daily. 

Nutrition

By eating fewer inflammatory foods and more anti-inflammatory foods, you can aid your body by reducing inflammation within the plantar fascia. Remember, as, with everything else, your diet can be vital to your foot health.  Base your diet on whole, nutrient-dense foods that contain antioxidants — and avoid processed products.

There are also several other conservative treatment strategies that are known to improve symptoms of the condition including electrical modalities, acupuncture, taping, night splints, and shoe inserts. Medical procedures for serious long-term conditions can range from steroid injections, surgery, shockwave therapy, scar tissue removal, and dry needling.   

Again, it’s important to note that if there is little to no improvement within 4-6 weeks with any of the conservative methods we provided above to seek the attention of a licensed medical professional to continue your journey in battling Plantar Fasciitis.

Ty Bostic
Fitness Instructor at Hilton Head Health

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